2010 Cadillac SRX TurboEnlarge Photo
And after the new, leaner, meaner GM ran the numbers, our souce said, "the cost of the vehicle with the plug-in hybrid system would have been too high to be competitive in the market."
That meant that Cadillac would likely sell very few of them, "and the business case couldn't be justified."
After all, if GM is making money on the standard SRX V-6--with a base price around $35,000--it might have had to add $5,000 for the hybrid system and $10,000 or more for the plug-in hybrid. And the company concluded that those sums simply weren't something that Cadillac SRX buyers would pay.
Why the SRX, anyway?
So how did the Two-Mode Plug-In end up in the SRX? Largely because that was one of the few products it could fit into.
Bob LutzEnlarge Photo
GM's former product-development czar Bob Lutz admitted in 2008 or 2009 that the front-wheel-drive Two-Mode system for the Vue "wouldn't go into the Lambda platform because the engine compartment was too narrow."
So instead of being usable in GM's largest crossovers, the seven-seat Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, and GMC Acadia, it had to be put into a smaller SUV with a wider engine compartment "because of the platform similarity."
"With a smaller engine in a lighter vehicle it could have been viable," our source told us sadly. "But the engineering resources to redo [the SRX Hybrid] at this time were needed for other programs."
And in fact, we were told, "everyone from the SRX program was moved to other programs several weeks ago, to keep that one moving forward."
Politics: Two-Mode Plug-In lost its champion
Finally, as in any company but especially within GM during decline, bankruptcy, restructuring, and a procession of CEOs, "there was a lot of politics around the program."
Every car program has advocates and critics, but in the case of the SRX Plug-In Hybrid, "a lot of people wanted to kill this program a long time ago."
Our source was discreet about who those critics may have been. But logic would suggest that the Volt team might have viewed another GM plug-in hybrid effort as competitive with their more advanced and riskier range-extended electric vehicle effort.
GM's former vice president of global product operations, Tom Stephens, was the main advocate for the Two-Mode Plug-In Hybrid effort, our source told us. "When he got bumped to Chief Technical Officer, it was just a matter of time before the plug-in hybrid died."
So what happens now?
And there you have it. The march of time, a heavier vehicle, unimpressive gas mileage gains, and inability to make money on the product killed the Cadillac SRX Plug-In Hybrid--a program that never officially existed.
And what of the Two-Mode Hybrid system, now restricted to full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles?
"There's a next-generation hybrid system, with versions for front-wheel-drive cars and crossovers, and trucks," our source told us.
"It will be lower cost and more efficient than the Two-Mode, and it'll arrive in cars first--sometime this decade, hopefully."